Barefoot luxury is the order of the long sunny days on Mnemba Island. Twelve bandas – wooden cottages – are interspersed along the picture-perfect beach, each with a huge verandah and private beach sala living room. The resonance is firmly glamorous beach chic, with enormous clamshells on each doorstep, filled with fresh water to rinse the sand away after leisurely strolls along the sea. Inside the airy and substantial suites, rattan, wood and natural materials dominate, with four posters swathed in gauzy muslin, and enormous showers with glass beaded curtains. Zanzibari chests are piled with books and lamps, and gently swirling ceiling fans whisper tropical charm.
Despite the fact that this is a small island, there’s plenty to savour. The reef is within swimming distance and prolific with marine life. Animated with neon-bright tropical fish, the warm water is limpid and as clear as gin, home also to giant turtles and dolphins. Paddle boarding, windsurfing, fly-fishing and sunset dhow trips are all laid on to make the most of this protected marine reserve. On land, rare small deer can be seen – tiny suni antelope and Ader’s duiker.
It’s all as beguiling as the sea breezes here, made better still by some sterling service and fine dining. Traditional Ngalawa outriggers land daily, laden with baskets of lobsters, crabs, prawns and fresh fruit and vegetables, which translate into grilled seafood platters and sumptuous breakfasts, served anywhere you like. Mnemba makes a fabulous and fitting end to the romance of an African safari adventure, but is a special stand-alone destination too, for a simple yet sophisticated getting-away-from-it-all stay. It’s all solitude, sun, sea and sand, stretching as far as the eye can see.